As one would expect this time of year, the coaches had both positive and negative initial reactions after Saturday's scrimmage. It was the last official scrimmage before the much anticipated Red-Black Spring game on April 17th. Texas Tech fans will see something new in Tommy Tuberville's offense. If spring practice is any indication of what the Red Raiders will do on the field starting in August, the offense promises to be unpredictable and explosive.
Head coach Tommy Tuberville wasted no time in assessing his charges. "We won't know until we watch the film and see how we did on both sides of the ball. It's obvious that Doege had a pretty good day throwing the ball deep down the field and the receivers caught the ball. We didn't tackle very well on defense and that's the obvious observations. It was a good scrimmage. Guys had a lot more concentration and we ran the ball on the defense. After watching the film tonight, we'll grade it and we'll know more starting the last week of practice."
Listening to Tuberville, one can sense his attention to detail. He expects a lot out of his players and it's obvious that they are beginning to buy in to his system and the way he coaches. One area that's a concern to Tuberville is the pace of the game. Here's what the head coach had to say about conditioning. "We're still a ways away. It's going to take a good 2-3 months of conditioning with the strength coaches. We do a lot of sled pushing and things like that because we've got to build a lot more strength in the lower body. That's the reason we're having so many leg problems right now. We're not even close."
Conversely, the head coach was pleased with the development of his running game. "Heck, Jeffers ran the ball hard again. He really learned from that first scrimmage how to play and the speed of the game. All the running backs ran the ball hard. We started running it from under center and I thought that looked good, especially coming off the goal line. We've got to have an opportunity some way somehow to have a more physical team when we want to have it that way. When you get the ball on the 3 yard line, you've got to be able to line up and knock somebody off the ball. We did a much better job of that today and I think it really helped running the ball from under the center. We're getting our timing down and the offensive line is learning more about coming out of a 3-point stance. So that's coming around. All phases of the game got better, but we're not near good enough to play in the Big 12. We have a lot of work to do."
Offensive Coordinator Neal Brown wasn't overly excited about Saturday's action, but still found some bright spots from which to build. "I was disappointed in the early parts of the scrimmage. I thought our first drive was good. We came out of the blocks pretty good but I'd like to see us finish with a touchdown. We had to settle for a field goal, which we missed. I was disappointed in the segment we had coming off the goal line. I didn't think we did very well. We got better in short yardage, and the second half of that scrimmage we did pretty well. We threw the ball more and we did some good things."
Brown talked at length about having dynamic players. In doing so, the offensive coordinator singled out three players. "Harrison Jeffers, Cornelius Douglas and Eric Stephens are guys that can make people miss. I thought Cornelius and Harrison did that. We haven't really allowed Eric Stephens and Baron Batch to get a whole lot of touches in these scrimmages, but they can do it."
Running back Harrison Jeffers, who highlighted Saturday's action, was quick to credit the guys who were opening holes for him. "I did pretty good. I followed my blocks. The offensive line and the receivers made good blocks and I just tried to make good cuts of those blocks."
Asked about the progress of the running game, Jeffers was excited. "(The coaches) are getting more confidence in (the running backs), giving us the ball more, and relying on us to make plays. They're letting us do what we were put here for."
Jeffers seems to have benefitted from the coaching change and is really devoting himself to learning how to be a better player. That's great news for someone with his ability. Jeffers has immense untapped potential and it will be fun to see if or when Tech fans watch him reach his apex. Asked about his personal progress, Jeffers had this to say: "I learned pretty much everything. I stopped making mental mistakes and learned from my experience. I started playing harder and I've learned the offense more and more (each day)."
The talented young player understands there are a few nuances of his play that need some polish as well. "I know I need to work on pass protection and recognizing the blitz. Coach Scott is helping me with that and teaching me one on one before meetings. I'm trying to learn everything and make it repetitive out here in practice."
For as much as the running game seems to concern Tuberville, the quarterback play and the receivers, specifically Alex Torres, got a much different reaction. Asked about Torres playing well Saturday, Tuberville said, "He's done that all year. That kid plays the ball so well in the air. Our QBs can just throw it up to his outside shoulder and he can adjust to it. Having hands is one thing but being able to adjust to the football like he does is amazing. Obviously he had a good day but he's had a good spring and he's getting better."
Quarterback Seth Doege echoed his head coach's thoughts. "Offensively, I think we executed well. I think we started slow but I think we got better in the second part of the scrimmage. We'll find out on film how well we did but overall, I feel pretty good about the offense."
Explaining his confidence in Alex Torres and the other receivers, Doege was like a kid in a candy store. "Oh yeah, you can just throw it up to Torres and he'll go get it. The receivers did a good job today. They didn't have many drops, and ran good routes. Also the offensive line protected well. That's what happens when everything comes together as a unit, good things happen."